Anti-Fracking March on Kent City Hall

Feb 11, 2012 – 11:00 am
The Kent Stage
175 E. Main St.
Kent    (Directions)

Anti-Fracking March on Kent City Hall

When: Feb 11 – 11 a.m.

Where: Beginning at the Kent Stage

Court sides with city in drilling case

Rules safety, not just money should be weighed by ODNR in oil lease negotiations

NORTH ROYALTON – Yet another court has sided with the city, ruling safety factors and not mere finances, should be considered in the mandatory pooling case involving Cutter Oil Company and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

City officials learned May 17 the 10th District Court of Appeals of Franklin County affirmed Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye’s 2015 ruling safety, and not merely economics, should be seriously considered and that money alone cannot be the sole consideration in determining whether or not a lease offer is just and equitable.

The court also overruled the ODNR’s “assignments of error” pertaining to the common pleas ruling, and the ODNR stance that financial considerations should be the main application criteria in lease negotiations under review by the chief of the ODNR oil and gas division.

“Finally, the chief’s position conflicts with the overall public policy of the state of Ohio concerning the health, safety and welfare of its citizens … furthermore, it appears that the safety concerns of the residents and public officials of North Royalton were dismissed by TAC (the ODNR Technical Advisory Committee), and that at no point did the chief consider the history between Cutter Oil and the city and the city’s safety concerns in his evaluation either in the mandatory pooling process or when granting the drilling permit,” the judges wrote in the case summary.

This history involves the Mercury Drive oil spill of 2011, evacuations, oil well burps and the rod that spontaneously ejected from the oil well near Valley Vista Elementary a few years ago.

This court decision, which was not anticipated for several months, came just a few weeks after Law Director Tom Kelly traveled to Columbus to argue the city’s case before the three-judge appeals court panel March 31.

There is a chance the ODNR, which is being represented by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, could appeal this latest ruling, this time to the Ohio Supreme Court, but for now the city is extremely thrilled with the verdict in a case the city has been battling for three years now.

“This is the third ruling affirming the city’s actions in objecting to the mandatory pooling. Once again health, welfare and safety of our residents are front and center in this decision from the Franklin County Court of Appeals,” Mayor Bob Stefanik said.

Council President Larry Antoskiewicz said he hopes this sends a loud and clear message to oil companies when it comes to future drilling agreements.

“I think it will definitely make companies more aware they have to put safety provisions in these contracts,” he said. “This opens up a whole new avenue for land owners to demand more from these oil companies, in terms of safety, before they sign on.”

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